Driftwood Room, Portland, Oregon
Served as an effervescent column in a slender flute or as a golden pool in a retro coupe, Champagne is a star soloist. But this diva plays well with others, too, even beyond classic duet partners such as strawberries, caviar and oysters. As part of an ensemble, the golden elixir contributes a mild tartness that can hold its own without stealing the show. Creative bars and restaurants show off Champagne’s complementary qualities in cocktails, entrees and desserts, proving the bubbly beverage has the star power to shine long after the predinner toast.
Pop Champagne Bar & Restaurant
Pop Champagne Bar & Restaurant calls on its signature ingredient to add extra fizz to a simple chicken dinner. Sparkles pull double duty in the marinade and finishing sauce for Champagne Chicken. “Marinating the chicken in the bubbly along with cooking it sous vide makes the chicken super tender and juicy,” says executive chef Ray Vasquez. “With the butter sauce, the bubbles get lost in the heat, but fresh black pepper and butter round out the dish.”
The Frieze Ice Cream Factory
Cool off in celebratory style with a scoop of Champagne Sorbet from this family-owned ice cream shop. “It has a pleasant balance of flavor,” says Lisa Warren, president of The Frieze Ice Cream Factory. Enjoy the popular icy treat alongside a fruity offering or in a refreshing sorbet slush, a blended beverage that combines multiple flavors of sorbet with seltzer water or lemon-lime soda. Warren’s slush of choice brings together Champagne and lychee sorbets to mimic the flavor of a lychee martini.
“Bubbles have a way of bringing out flavors in liqueurs and juices that may otherwise be hidden beneath other elements,” says Kaitlin Dover, bar and restaurant manager at Hotel Deluxe, home of Driftwood Room. The bar uses ingredients such as elderflower liqueur, pear brandy and creme de violette in its signature Champagne cocktails, a throwback to the cocktail lounge heyday of the 1950s. Try the Green Dragon, an exotic offering featuring absinthe and agwa, a liqueur made from Bolivian coca leaves, herbs and botanicals.
Bubbly adds pop to the snap and crackle of Chapulines, a dish that caters to adventurous eaters. Grasshoppers get sauteed in Champagne, or sometimes sparkling wine, and then served in a swarm alongside guacamole, tortillas and chipotle tomatillo salsa. Executive chef Hugo Ortega opened Hugo’s in 2002 to bring the earthy flavors of Mexico to Houston diners. His efforts have garnered accolades aplenty, including a spot on Eater’s Best Restaurants in America 2016.
Velvety risotto is already a sumptuous dish. Cafe Ananas, a swanky French bar and brasserie on Sydney’s iconic Circular Quay, fancies up the rich rice entree even more by swapping wine for Champagne in the cooking liquid. Taste the nuanced, flavorful results in Champagne Risotto with Fennel Confit and Aged Parmesan, featured on the cafe’s three-course pretheater menu. After the meal, take in a performance at Sydney Opera House to cap off an unforgettable evening.